Seventy consecutive patients admitted to an alcohol unit were given a modified version of Yalom's therapeutic factor questionnaire at various points during the therapeutic programme. This programme consists of a two-week introductory programme, followed by a treatment programme, which includes psychodynamic groups, life-history reviews and intensive cognitive-therapy sessions. Internal agreement of ranking order of therapeutic factors was high among all patients and was independent of time spent in group therapy. Patients valued most an existential factor (which embraces concepts of personal responsibility and isolation), self-understanding and cohesiveness; they least valued guidance and identification. Therapists also completed the questionnaire: their ranking of therapeutic factors correlated highly with that of patients, but they ranked an existential factor much lower.